Tigers emerge as suitor (front-runner?) for Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter’s play as a Minnesota Twins outfielder early in his career earned him the title as a Tiger killer around these parts. After all these years, it’s now realistic for Detroit fans to consider the possibility of Hunter becoming a Tiger.

It might not take long to figure out, one way or the other.

The Tigers are interested in Hunter, as reported earlier Monday by CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler, and as has been expected since team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski laid out their needs for a corner outfielder two weeks ago. Between Detroit’s season-long struggles against left-handed pitching, its desire to become more athletic, its lack of a proven second hitter between Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera, and Delmon Young’s departure as a free agent taking away one of Detroit’s key right-handed hitters, the Tigers’ needs fit Hunter’s strengths.

Just as encouraging, there are signs the interest is mutual, and strong. Whether the Tigers should be considered the front-runners for Hunter, as MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden put it, is a matter of perception, one that could change if another of his suitors (Knobler mentioned Texas, while the Rays, Phillies and Red Sox have also been mentioned in reports for possible one-year offers) steps up in the coming days. But signs point towards a logical match between Hunter and Detroit.

Hunter, moreover, sounded like he already has a team or teams in mind.

“It’s going to be quick,” Hunter told MLB Network’s Hot Stove morning show with Harold Reynolds. “I’m not going to wait it out. I know who I want to play for.”

Hunter didn’t mention which teams, but he said he’s looking to win, not simply get paid.

“Everybody knows I want to win,” Hunter told MLB Network, “so whatever team’s out there that wants to win and can use me and let me be a part of it, that’s who I want to be playing with.”

Hunter just finished a five-year, $90 million contract with the Angels. He has plenty of money, and he has a son who just committed to a football scholarship at Notre Dame.

That said, it’s expected to take a multi-year deal to sign Hunter, a fact which impacts his market at age 37. If he were to settle on a one-year deal, his field expands.

It leaves the Tigers with an intriguing decision. Detroit has two highly regarded, right-handed hitting outfield prospects with postseason hero Avisail Garcia and Futures Game MVP Nick Castellanos. Both are expected to have a chance to compete for a job in Spring Training, possibly a timeshare with Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch in one corner outfield spot.

The other corner spot is open, and that’s where Hunter fits in. Add in Hunter’s clubhouse presence and track record of working with young outfielders — Mike Trout credited Hunter’s help as an impact on him during his Rookie of the Year interview Monday night on MLB Network — and he’s one potential signing that could improve two spots, not to mention his potential impact on center fielder Austin Jackson.

However, a two-year deal for Hunter likely would mean a longer wait for Castellanos or Garcia. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, an extra year or two of development, but it’s something the win-now Tigers have to weigh.

16 Comments

It makes the team that much older but I like it. As a matter of fact, all those years that Victor was my favorite non-Tiger, Hunter was my second. Keep scoopin’ ‘em up, Dave. Torii’s many qualities and positives have been well documented.
I realize this hasn’t happened yet, but Mr. Dave always moves quickly in his targeted areas. A signing like this would ease the pressure on bringing Garcia and Castellanos along so quickly.

MLB’s Harold Reynolds is the brother of Hunter’s agent. He is conceivably in the know more than most. I have dealt with Harold 15-20 times in informal situations. He is an entertaining figure , but is pretty solid in what I have heard him say. This Hunter deal could be a legitimate deal in the makings for the Tigers.

I did not hear Hunter’s interview with Harold. But the fact Beck referenced it in his article makes me believe there is relevance to the Tigers, particularly given Huner’s agent’s relationship to Harold. Sounds like a scoop coming for Harold. I have my fingers crossed.

My understanding is that nothing is imminent, and it sounds like it would be a surprise if anything happened in the next few days. But yes, Larry Reynolds is the agent, so Harold is undoubtedly in the know.

Reminds me of when the Wings (read: Mike Illitch) signed Chris Chelios…..gosh he was a Redwing killer and then really performed for the wings. Torii Hunter IMO would really solidify this team in defense, offense and leadership. He isn’t the 20 steals a year guy we used to know in Minny though – btw.

Hunter to Detroit, an alternative look. What is the probability that Detroit returns to the ALCS for a third straight year, not likely but possible. Assuming Detroit loses Sanchez, his departure will be a huge loss. Hunter will be 38, is he able to be an everyday player and return to 2012 form? The one big issue, that no one is discussing is that Leyland has 1 win in 9 WS games. Do the Tigers have ‘bad karma?’

or are they due….hmmmmmmm

Q: How much more help does our GG centerfielder need? A: Not a lot really, buddies who know how to play the corners very well. DD knows his stuff and I am confident he will make a quality decisiion. I’m absolutly sure of one thing, locking in several additional quality arms for the inevitable injury bug and/or rotation/pen upgrades is the first order of buisness.
Q: How can the Tigers best fill thier need of a hitter who can take a lefty to RF in the second spot? A: Teach Garcia and Castanellos a consistent inside out swing like Miggy and Jeter and give them a huge number of reps from quality lefthanders OR hire Hunter.

Well on a side note – we didn’t lose the WS because of pitching….it was lack of hitting – so while I agree pitching wins championships we do need have a position to fill in the OF with someone who can hit LHP well.

I think the problem was not ‘losing” the World Series but rather, showing up for the World Series.
We need character on this club and not just superstars.

i can second that thought

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